There is a moment in time that is paradoxically, timeless and fleeting. It is finite and infinite. Like so much of our existence, it is a Rorshach test of sorts, open to whatever we impose upon it. We can view it as the end of the night. We can see it as the dawn of a new day. Or we can treat it as a magical time, a virginal moment, that is a blank page, allowing us to paint our thoughts and dreams on it once we have gone through the night and before we grapple with the day.
For those who crave black and white, this is too much to deal with. It is too poorly defined. It is not about sleeping. It is not about waking. It is, instead, about cultivating the endless possibilities God puts before us and that are so rarely harvested.
All of the great, the astounding ideas in the history of the earth, have come from the “mindless” moments we are free to walk down the street, sit under a tree, lie in a hammock and think freely.
I have always loved the story of Edwin Land walking around Cambridge with his young daughter when she asked “Why does it take so long to see a picture after you photograph it daddy.” Land was about to answer within the confines of current technology when he caught himself and, like the exceptionally intelligent and gifted man he was, asked himself the same question. “Why indeed?” Thus was born Polaroid. And ditto for nearly every extraordinary enterprise and artistic masterpiece through the ages. They are born not when the mind focuses, as conventional wisdom would have you believe, but instead when it floats.
In life, we have but two great possibilities: love and achievement. All else is TV, fast food and cigarettes. If you value the first two, the wondrous two, the divine two, you need to push all else out to sea. And you need to fight for them.
Often, people who don’t know me ask, “What do you do in your free time.” Please tell me what they mean. What is “free time?” Every second carries an opportunity cost. If I don’t spend it well, toward love and achievement, it evaporates forever. Hard on myself? I will accept the charge, admit to it and keep on relishing every moment.
I thought about John Locke today for the first time in many years. When did he first have the epiphany that we are all born with blank sheets of paper, absent of ideas? I know.
When he was alone. When his mind could drift. In the time he chose not to be free.
Before the morning becomes the day.
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